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Writing the Prizefight

Pierce Egan’s "Boxiana" World

David Snowdon

This book won the Lord Aberdare Literary Prize for Sports History (2013)

This book focuses on the literary contribution made by the pugilistic writing of Pierce Egan (c. 1772-1849), identifying the elements that rendered Egan’s style distinctive and examining the ways his writing invigorated the sporting narrative. In particular, the author analyses Egan’s blend of inventive imagery and linguistic exuberance within the commentaries of the Boxiana series (1812-29). The book explores the metropolitan and sporting jargon used by the diverse range of characters that inhabited Egan’s ‘Pugilistic Hemisphere’ and looks at Egan’s exploitation of prizefighting’s theatricality. Another significant theme is the role of pugilistic reporting in perpetuating stereotypical notions relating to British national identity, military readiness and morality. Consideration of Egan’s metropolitan rambles is complemented by discussion of the heterogeneity, spectacle and social dynamics of the prize ring and its reportage. The book traces Egan’s impact during the nineteenth century and, importantly, evaluates his influence on the subsequent development of sporting journalism.


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List of Short Titles


Annals of Sporting – ‘Jon Bee’, The Annals of Sporting and Fancy Gazette; A Maga- zine, Entirely appropriated to Sporting Subjects and Fancy Pursuits, 13 vols. (London: Sherwood, Neely, & Jones, 1822–8) Bee’s Sportsman’s Slang – ‘Jon Bee’, Sportsman’s Slang; A New Dictionary of Terms Used in the Af fairs of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, and the Cock-Pit; with those of Bon-Ton, and the Varieties of Life; Forming an Original and Authentic Lexicon Balatronicum et Macaronicum, Particularly Adapted to the Use of the Sporting World, For elucidat- ing Words and Phrases that are Necessarily, or Purposely, Rendered Cramp, Mutative and Unintelligible, Outside their Respective Spheres. Interspersed with Anecdotes and Whimsies, With Tart Quotations and Rum-Ones; With Examples, Proofs and Monitory Precepts, Useful and Proper for Novices, Flats, and Yokels (London: W Lewis, 1825) Book of Sports – Pierce Egan, Book of Sports, and Mirror of Life: Embracing The Turf, The Chase, The Ring, and the Stage, Interspersed with Original Memoirs of Sporting Men & c. (London: Tegg, 1832) Boxiana I – Pierce Egan, Boxiana; or, Sketches of Antient and Modern Pugilism; From the Days of the Renowned Broughton and Slack to the Heroes of the Present Milling Era (London: Smeeton, 1813) Boxiana II – Pierce Egan, Boxiana; or, Sketches of Modern Pugilism, From the Cham- pionship of Crib to the Present Time, vol. II (London: Sherwood, Neely, & Jones, 1818) Boxiana III – Pierce Egan, Boxiana; Sketches of Modern Pugilism, During the Cham- pionship of Cribb to Spring’s Challenge to All England, vol. III (London: Sherwood,...

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